The keyboard was a bit spongy feeling and the build amazingly soft and brittle for this VAIO laptop on display (view large image)
Last night, Sony had a media event to introduce the AR series of notebooks (overview posted last night) and the new VAIO UX UMPC device. The excuse used for the party was Sony VAIO’s 10th anniversary, so they had a few things on display. Let’s take a look.
1999 – VAIO C1 Series. First ultraportable with a built-in camera.
2004 – VAIO X505. First Sony carbon fiber model. Very thin. (VAIO X505 Review)
2005 – VAIO T-Series. First computer from a major manufacturer with a built-in WWAN. (VAIO T Review)
2006 – VAIO SZ. VAIO’s 10th anniversary model. Demo only, not for sale! So if you want some Swarovsky crystals on your VAIO logo, you’ll have to DIY! (VAIO SZ Review)
2006 – VAIO VGN-FJ290P1/V. Limited edition FJ series Wild Violet 10th Anniversary VAIO. Available at the end of for about $1,400. (VAIO FJ Review)
For whatever reason, all the old laptop models were behind scratched-up plastic cases, while the current models (desktops and other entertainment devices) were within reach. Sony’s own photographer found that strange and doubted that the organizers were worried about theft. The photographer gave me some tips for shooting through glass that I’m saving for the next time.
There were also a handful of posters hanging around:
1996 – VAIO 90 Series. First VAIO computer introduced in the US.
2000 – VAIO LX Desktop. First consumer pen tablet in the market.
2004 – VAIO X505. Clippings from a fairly clever ad that mean something completely different when blown up 3x the original size. I guess they only had two regular posters and needed something to cover up the wall.
People mulling around, waiting for the obligatory speeches and the unveiling. Watch a 2-minute video about what Sony has been up to for the last 10 years. Sony bigwigs sound desperate to impress upon the media the words innovation and revolutionary. So it is, once again, revolutionary, setting the stage for, once again, innovation, for VAIO.De-emphasizing the $3,500 price tag on the VAIO AR, sounding almost sad.
2006 – VAIO UX180P UMPC…
And now, the keynote – Sony announces what everyone has been waiting for, the world’s first full-function pocket-sized PC. Now, this is also very revolutionary…Sony says they listened to a lot of customer feedback on their former similar devices, and as a result, added a keyboard and WWAN (Cingular’s EDGE). We think that the next generation, or the next evolution, of ultra-portable computing is here, and you are viewing it and seeing it tonight.Shipping early for approximately $1800. This is another example of VAIO’s innovation leadership and the first step in our next revolution.
VGA-UX180P in its docking station, surrounded by a sea of cables. (view large image)
So, what’s this all about? By the time I’m done taking notes and taking snaps of the VAIO AR, the show’s mostly over and people are just hanging around — which means, more room for me and the UMPC. Its name is UX Micro PC, because Sony doesn’t want to be called UMPC i.e. Ultra Mobile PC, but they know that that’s what everyone will call this device and they want the acronym to continue to work.
I pick it up. The keyboard slides out nicely — effortlessly, but without being wobbly. The shape is comfortable, with the sides being thicker than the middle to allow your hands to nicely wrap around the device. However, at 1.2 pounds, it feels like this could get uncomfortably heavy after a while. I have large hands for a gal, but they’re still nowhere nearly as big or strong as man hands, so it’s possible that it would be more comfortable to hold for men. I do know, however, that I wouldn’t want to be carrying it around everywhere in my purse.
Gah, the Start menu takes up the entire screen! My eyes are hurting now, this WSVGA (1024×600) resolution on a 4.5″ screen have completely defeated both my eyes and my camera that somehow made a blurry trapezoid out of it. The display is very, very, very sharp, so sharp that it’s killing my eyes.
I touch something and a dialogue box pops up. My finger is almost too big to hit No, accomplishing the task with some difficulty. However, I do notice that the screen is not retaining the fingerprints nearly as much as most devices, so that’s a big plus.
A bored Sony rep comes up to me to ask what I think. I say meh and he’s very much surprised. After all the hoopla, how could I… He takes it from me and I notice that you’re supposed to navigate it through some thing on the top right, as the rep brings up some program while talking about how this could be used for presentations and just about anything. For $1800, you better be able to use it for just about anything. Ok, I don’t feel like being harassed any longer, so I’m leaving. I get a press kit with the specs and a bottle of champagne to celebrate VAIO’s 10th anniversary at home the proper way – and I’m gone.
Sony VAIO UX180P Full Specs:
- Core Solo U1400 Ultra Low Voltage processor, 1.2GHz, 533 MHz FSB
- 512MB RAM (PC2-3200), which is also the maximum capacity
- 30GB 4200 RPM Ultra ATA HDD w/ G-Sensor Shock Protection
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 w/ 128 MB shared RAM
- Built-in monoaural speakers and microphone
- 2 built-in cameras — .3 megapixels in the front for web conferencing and 1.3 megapixels in the back for taking snaps
- Action Buttons: Mouse left, mouse right, scroll, zoom in/out, capture, center button, WLAN on/off, VAIO Touch Launcher
- Biometric fingerprint sensor
- Inputs, Outputs, & Networking:
- Headphone Jack
- Microphone Jack
- MemoryStick slot
- 1 USB port
- Port Replicator
- 100 Mbit Ethernet
- 802.11a/b/g WLAN
- WWAN accessing Cingular’s EDGE network
- Inputs & outputs on port replicator:
- 3 USB ports
- VGA out
- A/V out
- Windows XP Pro w/ SP2
- Microsoft Streets & Trips
- InterVideo WinDVD
- Microsoft Works
- Roxio DigitalMedia SE
- Pen Plus
- VAIO proprietary software
- Bloatware, including trials a whopping 60 minutes long
- Battery life: 2.5-4.5 hrs standard, 5.0-9.5 hrs large capacity
- Measurements: 5.91″ W x 3.74″ H x 1.27-1.50″ D
- Included accessories: port replicator, soft carrying case, stylus, strap
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